Travelers’ diarrhea (TD) refers to a stomach and intestinal infection commonly associated with E. coli bacteria. It often affects travelers in developing countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Mexico.
TD may occur if an individual consumes contaminated food or water, and it frequently is associated with the unsanitary handling of food. For example, if a restaurant employee does not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom, this individual can transmit harmful bacteria to customers via contaminated food.
Some groups may be more prone than others to TD. These groups include:
- People who have a weakened immune system
- People with diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, or liver cirrhosis
- People who frequently use antacids or acid blockers
Also, TD can result in a variety of symptoms, including:
- Loss of appetite
TD symptoms may last for three to seven days; infections are rarely life-threatening but they can cause severe dehydration. If nothing else, a bout of TD can ruin your entire vacation.
How Is TD Treated?
Hydration is the main treatment for TD. Water rejuvenates the body and helps a traveler overcome dehydration. Unfortunately, severe vomiting may hamper one’s best effort to prevent dehydration.
Antacid/anti-diarrhea medications such as Pepto-Bismol commonly are used to treat TD.
In some cases, travelers receive prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics for TD as part of a pre-travel consultation with a healthcare professional. However, improper use of antibiotics may promote drug resistance in the bacteria that can cause TD. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes the Shingella sonnei bacteria are resistant to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin, which is often the top choice to treat adults dealing with the shigellosis intestinal infection. In a recent CDC study, 90% of tested adult shigellosis cases were resistant to ciprofloxacin.
For parents, it is important to consult a doctor immediately if a child or infant displays TD symptoms. WebMD points out many TD treatments are not recommended for children, and dehydration poses severe health risks to children.
TD Prevention Tips
When traveling, there are many foods and beverages that individuals should avoid due to potential contamination risks. These include
- Raw Fruits and Vegetables: Raw fruits and vegetables may look appetizing, but they can transmit foodborne pathogens. If you eat fresh fruits, be sure that they are ones that you can remove the outer skin (i.e., bananas, pineapple).
- Tap Water: Sealed, bottled water offers a safe choice for travelers. If bottled water is unavailable, water should be boiled to remove contaminants. Avoid ice cubes that have been made with tap water.
- Raw or Undercooked Meat, Poultry, Fish, and Eggs: A traveler should only consume meat, poultry, fish, or eggs if it is freshly cooked and piping hot.
Despite a traveler’s best efforts to monitor what he or she eats, there may still be instances where an individual gets sick due to contamination. Remember, foods and beverages may be tainted at any point between when a traveler receives and consumes these items, and where a travel dines out can have far-flung effects on his or her health. Therefore, it usually is a good idea to be cautious when selecting a restaurant. Choosing a restaurant that has a proven reputation, i.e. one that locals visit frequently, generally is a safe decision. Look for establishments that are busy because they tend to have a high turn-over of food and it’s not sitting out collecting bacteria.
For travelers who want snacks, packing nonperishables is vital. Safe, healthy nonperishable snacks for travelers include:
- Canned or sealed nuts
- Instant oatmeal (Remember to use bottled or boiled water to prepare it)
- Canned or bagged tuna
- Dried fruits
- Breakfast or protein bars
In addition to nonperishable snacks, travelers may want to pick up over-the-counter (OTC) medications for diarrhea, gas, and heartburn. Certain OTC medications may be tough to find in different parts of the world or when you need them. By packing OTC medications before a trip, a traveler will ensure he or she can quickly address gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, regardless of location. Remember to take any medications with bottled water.
Research indicates adults who take the equivalent of two Pepto-Bismol tabs, four times a day can decrease the incidence of TD by up to 60%. Travelers should keep in mind that there are side effects associated with Pepto-Bismol as well. Common Pepto-Bismol side effects include anxiety, confusion, constipation, drowsiness, and dizziness.
Some travelers believe probiotics help stop TD by crowding out the bad bacteria. Yet research is inconclusive about whether probiotics can be used to consistently combat TD.
Prophylactic antibiotics also are effective to prevent TD. Like Pepto-Bismol, prophylactic antibiotics have side effects that travelers need to consider.
It often helps to perform plenty of research before traveling outside the United States, too. The CDC and U.S. Department of State Travel Information offer valuable resources to help travelers check out a destination’s drinkable water supply, medical care, and vaccination requirements and other suggestions. With this information in hand, a traveler can identify health and safety risks and plan accordingly.
Lastly, meeting with a healthcare provider two months prior to international travel is crucial. A healthcare provider can provide recommendations and suggestions to help a traveler self-treat TD and other GI issues, including specific vaccinations.
How Does Bovine Colostrum Support Immune Health?
Colostrum is provided by mammalian mothers to their young in the first few days after birth. It supports healthy growth and development.
Various peer review studies indicate colostrum can help combat infections. In fact, Colostrum-LD® from Sovereign Laboratories contains colostrum polypeptides (CPs), also called proline-rich polypeptides that help manage immune response. Colostrum’s polypeptides consist of short chains of amino acids – the building blocks of the human body. They work as hormones that regulate the thymus gland and help balance the immune system.
Colostrum-LD® is certified to contain a minimum of 25% immunoglobulins, 1.5% lactoferrin, 1.5% growth factors, and 3.5% PRPs, all of which support a healthy GI tract. Plus, Colostrum-LD® is a bovine colostrum product that has been flash-pasteurized, low heat-dried, and instantized for safety, solubility, and efficacy.
Colostrum-LD® uses a proprietary LD Liposomal Delivery™ system. This system ensures colostrum’s bioactive components can travel through the digestive tract and are absorbed into the bloodstream.
Take the Necessary Precautions to Prevent TD
When it comes to travel, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Overseas travelers should carefully select foods and boil water in areas of poor sanitation to minimize the risk of TD.
Additionally, regular use of Colostrum-LD® may help protect the G.I. and stomach lining against common insults related to travel. And, of course, be sure to take Colostrum-LD® with bottled water. To learn more about Colostrum-LD®, please check out our blog posts.This article was brought to you by Sovereign Laboratories, a world leader in the development of liposomal delivery to maximize the bioavailability of our dietary supplements.